Novak Djokovic visa hearing looms as Australian government’s delay request denied

Karen Andrews, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, on Saturday filed a demand asking “that the final hearing be adjourned until Wednesday, January 12, 2022” – five days before the tournament begins.

No reason was given for the adjournment request, but it came just hours after Djokovic’s legal team submitted a 35-page document outlining the player’s defense against the decision to revoke his temporary visa. .

As part of that defense, it emerged that Djokovic had obtained a medical exemption before the Australian Open, as he had recently recovered from Covid-19.

In a letter dated December 7, which was leaked to reporters this week and cannot be independently verified by CNN, it appears that the organizers of the Australian Open falsely informed unvaccinated players that they could enter Australia to participate in the tournament.

Court documents released on Saturday confirmed that Djokovic – who has previously expressed his opposition to Covid-19 vaccines and vaccine warrants – was not vaccinated when he arrived in Australia on January 5.

His visa hearing is now scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. local time Monday (6 p.m. ET Sunday), with a decision on whether he can stay in Australia and participate in the tournament expected at 4 p.m. (12 p.m. ET).

If the court upholds the cancellation of his visa, Djokovic will be deported as soon as appropriate travel arrangements can be made.

According to Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia, it was “conflicting information” that led to the granting of exemptions to unvaccinated players ahead of the Australian Open.

In an interview with CNN affiliate 9 News on Sunday, Tiley declined to blame any part. He said Tennis Australia was in communication with the Australian Home Office “every week” and all parties involved were operating in a “very difficult environment”.

Tiley added that he would like to see Djokovic play at the Australian Open. The world No.1 is hoping to win his 10th Australian Open title and his 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne this month.

The detention of Djokovic at the Park Hotel, an alternative place of detention for refugees and asylum seekers, has attracted widespread attention since Thursday; supporters gathered outside to demand his release, while others highlighted the plight of around 30 refugees also being held in the hotel.

Novak Djokovic fans are fighting to get him out of his hotel.  Inside, refugees wonder if they will ever leave
Back in Djokovic’s native Serbia, his parents staged protests against the conditions they say their son is being “held captive” in the hotel – a claim Andrews denied earlier this week.

“He’s free to go anytime he chooses to, and Border Force will make that easier,” Andrews told ABC on Friday.

In an interview with Serbian national television station RTV Pink on Saturday, the country’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said Djokovic would receive “gluten-free meals, exercise equipment and a laptop” as he continues. to be detained.

According to court documents released on Saturday, Djokovic has repeatedly requested to be transferred to a “more suitable place of detention that would allow him to train” before the Australian Open.

Brnabic said she had spoken to Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, but was unable to reverse the decision to keep Djokovic at the Park Hotel pending the outcome of her judicial affair.

“He’s still at the Park Hotel, but I hope we made his stay a little more bearable with the concessions we got for him,” she said.

Josh Pennington contributed reporting.

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